Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 May 9
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

The Race to Reveal Our Universe
Credit: BOOMERANG Project, NSF

Explanation: A race is underway to understand our universe through background radiation produced during its infancy. Observationally, increasingly accurate balloon experiments are pressing to beat future space-faring satellites to definitive measurements of universe-determining spot characteristics of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The BOOMERANG balloon mission, depicted above, reported its new results only two weeks ago, and the MAXIMA group is reporting new results even today. Cosmology theorists are submitting a flurry of papers in an effort to explain the latest results. These balloon CMB measurements appear to imply a universe consistent geometrically with familiar Euclidean axioms, but perhaps complex in unforeseen ways. Later this year NASA plans to launch the MAP satellite that will study the CMB in greater detail and may determine the geometry of composition of our universe definitively. So stay tuned -- one of the greatest races of modern science is sure to continue.

Tomorrow's picture: Asteroid Kleopatra

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.